Monday, April 24, 2017

Alive in the City

I have returned from the great white north.  
Walking the streets of Toronto this weekend, either alone or with Loren was decidedly a blast.  On both days there I walked through new neighborhoods. These were places I did not have any familiarity with and some of them were quite nice.  Strolling through a row of connected parks surrounded by seven storey buildings made me think that I was more made for urban that suburban living. I walked almost 10 miles on Saturday from a brewery to a weekend market to all sorts of stores that sold every single thing under the sun.
There is a joy in having the freedom to pass from place to place unknown making a new impression on each person you meet.  A city is a wonderful place for a gregarious person.  Soon I will just be an invisible old man but right now I could spend a couple years in a little efficiency apartment in the section of Toronto called the Annex, brownstones with second floor porches and stained glass windows.  I would love to spend the early morning having dark rich coffee and eating croissants from the local bakery smothered with orange marmalade.  Then I would write for two hours straight.  A brisk walk to see what was about and going would follow Next I would have a light lunch of summer sausage and fresh fruits and vegetables.  Then more writing would follow.  Finally in the evening I would be at a film or a concert.
Time is short.  I probably won’t ever get moment like these.  Still, I can dream upon paper of a world I would love.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Walking into Health/Walking into a Storm

Every day for several weeks I have been walking into work.  My ritual as it has now become is part of the “make the best of these later years” campaign.  As part of the campaign each week on Sunday mornings I go to Weight Watchers.  More often than not I am losing weight.  As of last week it was twenty five pounds down.  Some strategies do have positive results.  In reality once the first 10 days passed I was not missing my daily candy bar or M&Ms.

Routing for my walk is simple.  Each day I take the neighborhood streets insofar as I can.  I grab photographs of the flowers that are starting to come into season.  I take a daily picture of a construction site; the time lapsed movie of it is rather fun.  I turn on my iPhone and set it upside down in my shirt pocket and listen to tunes.  Headphones are out due to hearing loss from one too many rock and roll concerts.  My eyes scan for the odd and the unusual.  Today I notice somebody is using the wrought iron head and footboards of a twin bed as trellises for Morning Glories; odd but kind of cute.

There is only about a five block stretch I have to walk on a main thoroughfare.  If I have remembered to bring a plastic bag I pick up empty water, energy drink and juice containers.  With no deposit required on these there sure are a great number of them abandoned along the way. 

About a block from my office I started into a cross walk.  There was a car coming down Highland and it was an old beige Buick.  It was at least four car lengths from the stop.  I started across.  The driving despite having plenty of time to slow and stop made it a point of screeching to a stop.  His driver side window was down.  He called me a mother*cker and then began a bit of a tirade.  I looked to see if it was someone I knew and if this rant was just a social greeting.  Neither of these potential facts were the actual case.

As I finished crossing the street the vehicle the vehicle accelerated and the driver threw out one more epithet calling me a piece of poo.  He actually rolled down the passenger side window to do this.  Well, I raised my middle finger in salute to such exemplary behavior.  I also lost my cool and referred to him as a human fluid receptacle.  He sped away, but I felt guilty.

This man made me lose my cool.  I reacted in anger and not compassion.  I don’t know what his urgency was, and whether there was any urgency at all. There were no cars on either street to speak of. Maybe he knew me and didn’t like me before he got to the stop. My incursion into his path may have allowed him to vent things he thought about me before he ever saw me today. Whatever the genesis, my response was wrong.  I am therefore apologizing to you my readers because he is long gone down the highway.  In life things will go sideways through no fault of our own.  Our compassion and understanding will usually be the best course.  So it goes.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017


North Country mists are common as a copper penny,

If the snow has stopped

and if the sky is not threatening tornados with torrents and lightening, 

Well then, the weather gives us mist.


Never be deterred by a hazy spray 

Spring or summer solitary walking in a gentle rain is a meditation.

In the dog days, the gentle moisture cools the heat.

In the spring the tiny almost unseen droplets perceptibly transform brown dormant things to green lush life.

Mist falling drives the weak and weary people from the streets, sidewalks, side yards and driveways leaving one to one’s own thoughts and perceptions.


All the contrivances of humanity, gutters and flashings, drainpipes, rain barrels and sewer grates,

Are made known in the mist.

The work of human hands is futile against nature,

Rain will find the earth.


Falling quietly almost silently you hear the collecting water 

At critical mass the liquid tings and gurgles and makes that slow sliding sound as it reaches the end of a downspout, 

The mist is seeking the earth,

The mist seeking the moment of cleansing and rebirth.


Mist so common in the North Country,

Shows us human folly,

Shows us natural healing,

Observe and absorb.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

And Then we Left Chad's Party and We Were All Over Each Other LikeMating Mountain Lions in the Back of Sara's Car

Some people go to the gym.  Some people go ride their bikes. Other people go to the Y and do laps in the pool.  We all should be doing something to make sure our bodies are staying at some basic level of functionality.  I walk.

When I walk, I see the pieces of other people’s lives that have been cast off in the bushes.  I have found DVDs buried in the ground as if they had been thrown there most likely from a car.  I assume that because they have been buried deep like ninja stars.  I have found tons of cans of energy drinks that have been cast aside.  My guess from what I have seen is that the American population is about the most energized in the whole wide freakin’ world.

This morning I came upon this tableau.  My only guess is that somewhere there are a hungover pair of college juniors telling two other someones a story about what an awesome (or regret filled) night those late hours of Saturday evening was.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Just Another Day

Friday evening has come. Air here is still relatively warm. Our grey sky is very moisture laden. Tonight we are under a series of severe weather  watches. Because of how warm it has been a potential exists 
for tornadoes as this cold front pushes through . 

Every place has its demons, every place has its monsters. If I lived on the East Coast there would be Noreasters  and hurricanes. Here along the Canadian border the threat is always blizzard, and sometimes tornados.

I spent today working on a long and convoluted order. As it stands it looks like I will be stripping an automobile repair shop of it's license. I have had to go back and listen to the vast majority of the hearing for a second time. When you're dealing with the termination of someone's livelihood you don't want to leave anything to chance. After time passes my eyes get blurry staring at the screen. Still I should be able to get it done over the course of the weekend.

Today had some subtle and unexpected  delights. I had several short text conversations with friends. The cheered me up. Sometimes in a rush to do our work, to cloth and feed our families, to be part of the normal we forget that there are voices we need to listen to. We forget that sometimes we have to reach out to them first. A few quick phrasea here and there can remind someone of a long and shared history.

I took a couple of pictures to capture the nature of this February day. Kids are playing in a brown gray park with no snow to be seen. Old men walk their dogs up and down the streets several times each day. The normal here would have snow 12 inches deep and the temperature would not be 54°. The kids might still be playing but they would be building a snow fort. Time is not this day as time always was.

Last night after promising start I got bogged down in reading up on stoicism The author began following each of various threads the philosophical movement. My guess is that in a bit he'll return to the major elements of the doctrine. I hope so, the start of the book was so promising. In these remaining years I am going to refuse to let my mind idle too much.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Break out the single malt

There are so many things that are on my mind right now. Some days I'm not sure where I should begin to try and untangle the issues I'm surrounded by. Life is like that sometimes. 

Of the new order well I'm not a fan. Today there were no issues that I felt an absolute need offer any commentary on, post a link about or share a meme regarding. Do not get me wrong, if I see something that seems unjust or unfair or simply wrongheaded I will speak up.

My biggest gripe is with time. Looking at old pictures has made me look at the clock on the wall in this old bar. Hell it is almost closing hour. Better drink up and make sure we pour the good stuff

Good News

I had started a note while I was in the urologist waiting room on my laptop. I was an hour early for my appointment. My thought was that it would give me a little time to do some writing. It was also necessitated by the fact that it didn't cost me anything to get there an hour early because my wife could drop me off on her way to work and I wouldn't have to pay for a cab. To my surprise they called me in for my appointment almost immediately.

Talking to the doctor actually was a pretty positive experience. According to the doctor my chances of prostate cancer return have dropped precipitously now because at the 10 year mark after surgery there is a steep decline in the recurrence rates. That was good news. 

I am dictating this as I'm waiting for my Uber. Apple has  really upped their game on voice recognition software. There is an occasional mistake here and there but for the most part the dictation is close to flawless.

(Time passes)

I took a break from writing because my Uber driver showed up. Riding with the gentleman I found out that his main job is working as an orderly for community mental health. A rather big guy, his job is to subdue patients who are becoming unruly and unmanageable.

 He actually seemed like a relatively gentle spirit. We talked about the medications that are given to control bipolar disorder. We both know that while very effective lithium destroys the liver of the user. I tried to give him a tip and he wouldn't take it.

After I got out I refreshed my coffee at the Biggby here. I got one of my favorite barista's  to pose for a portrait. I'm playing around a lot with the portrait imaging in the Apple camera. It is really a rather nice feature.

I will spend most of the day writing an order on the hearing I help yesterday. It will be very time-consuming and rather emotionally draining. This is my life. This is everyone's life. A little joy a lot of work.